We didn’t just wake up one day and decide to adopt, the decision grew on us. Let me introduce us. I am female and in my late forties and my partner is male and in his early forties, at least we were when this process began. Once we had decided we contacted Western Bay Adoption and a social worker came to our house for an ‘informal’ chat, from there we were assigned our own social worker and the journey began.

A four day preparation workshop followed, taken by a fantastic person, loads of information, some group discussions, true stories and a lot of detail, definitely a great idea to do the workshop at the beginning of the process.

Truth is that the whole process is intrusive! It’s not difficult; it is time consuming but as it is all about ‘you’, then you do have the information or the ability to find it. Where and when you lived, the schools you attended, the jobs you’ve done and the relationships you have has are all asked about. My advice, tell the truth, be clear and confident. You will need to come up with people to be referees, one for you, one for your partner and one for the both of you. Your financial situation is included and health checks (a full medical is necessary).

There is a structure and there us an end to all; the questions and then for me it starts to get tough. One of the first parts is all about you, then it becomes about the child you want to adopt.

Do you have a preference for age, sex, a single child or a sibling group? Have you considered a child with a disability? Suddenly you are asked to tick boxes for yes, no or maybe – that was awful for me in a way. I really struggled to answer some questions. I felt guilty for saying no or for setting a ceiling on an age group, I kept thinking that ticking ‘that box’ might mean we lost our child. My partner was much stronger in this particular area.
All paperwork completed. It takes about 8 meetings with your social worker, the majority with you all together. One is an individual meeting – I guess to make sure that you are both committed to the adoption, neither being pressured by the other.

The next hurdle is panel day. I was a little stressed about this and imagined it like a job interview in front of loads of people. It was so not the case. There were about 10 people but they were all on our side. No tricky questions just some ‘padding’ to some of the factual stuff, really not a bad experience at all. Fortunately we were approved.

Then came the very hard part – We waited and we waited and we waited.

In my head, we went to panel, passed and then you had your child, I was convinced that every phone call would be our social worker. Nope. The bit you have to remember is that adoption is about putting the right child with the right family and that takes time.

I am going to jump ahead. There were a couple of possibilities for us but for good reasons they did not progress, sometimes on closer investigation, geography (i.e. birth family members being too close) may not work in your favour.

Jumping ahead again, we were given some information about a little girl; there came more info, then photos and then a meeting with her social worker and the family finder, then some videos and more photos. We said yes. We then received more information and a meeting with the foster carers and a school teacher. We kept saying yes.

During the adoption process you learn about contact, there are two types, direct and indirect. Indirect contact is something like letterboxing. Your child writes a letter, sometimes yearly, sometimes six monthly, for example, to send to maybe birth mother/father, grandparents and/or siblings. Sometimes adoptive parents can be unsure/worried about the possibility of direct contact. My understanding of such contact is that it can be upsetting before, during and after direct contact but that it can be a really positive experience. I’ve read loads about it. My instinct is to protect my child and to stop her bring upset. So far I believe that direct contacts help children understand how and why they were adopted.

So we have completed the paperwork, been to panel, have received information about a little girl and now to matching panel.

Similar to before:- no tricky questions, we showed our scrapbook which included pictures of us, our dog, cat, house, car, where we live, local parks, etc. we also had a memory stick of images – my other half is very creative. And finally a fleecy blanket

And it was unanimous and we will be meeting our little girl very soon.

Ps. we have met her, we had a week of meeting her and then she moved in with us. Life is very, very good.

National Adoption Service for Wales Mid-Year Report for 2018-19Forces Health and Well-being Day